Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Thanksgiving Day Mass celebrates dedication of Our Lady of Lourdes

by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register

(From the Dec. 18, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Bishop Skylstad preached the homily at the Thanksgiving Day Mass marking the centennial of the dedication of Our Lady of Lourdes.

On Nov. 27, Thanksgiving morning, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated the centennial of the dedication of the present church building.

The church was nearly filled with worshippers to mark the occasion.

Originally established as St. Joseph Church, the first parish church was located near Main and Bernard in downtown Spokane. A carpenter shop served the first Catholics for a church, before a sturdier building was erected on the site.

The present church was located as a sort of bridge between downtown Spokane and the neighborhood known as Browne’s Addition, to the west of the downtown area, said Bishop Skylstad, who celebrated the centennial Mass and preached.

Our Lady of Lourdes was not yet a cathedral 100 years ago – the Diocese of Spokane was still part of the Seattle Diocese in those days. Eastern Washington would not become a diocese itself until Dec. 17, 1913.

The church was named by Father Ruellen, a French Jesuit who was Spokane’s first resident priest. He suffered from ill health, but a visit to the shrine of Lourdes in France made a great impression on him. According to a brief history of the parish read at the centennial Mass, Father Ruellen died in 1895, before the new building was dedicated, after just nine months of ministry here.

The cornerstone of the parish church was laid in 1903. When time came for the dedication on Thanksgiving Day five years later, “there must have been some premonition that Eastern Washington would become a diocese,” said Bishop Skylstad, since bishops of the region came for the ceremony, including Bishop O’Dea of Seattle, Archbishop Christie of Portland (who was the homilist), Bishop Glorieux from Boise, Idaho, and Bishop Carroll from Helena, Mont.

The construction of what is now the diocese’s cathedral church was overseen by Father Aloysius Verhagen, a Belgian who was “largely responsible for the design and the use of the Italian Romanesque style,” says the parish history. Indeed, the Cathedral “has its own sense of beauty,” said Bishop Skylstad.

To celebrate the centennial on Thanksgiving is especially apt, said the bishop. The Gospel of the day was St. Luke’s account of the curing of the 10 lepers. The epistle, from the First Letter of Peter, talks about Jesus as the cornerstone, and with faith, we become the living stones which build up a community of faith.

“On this day, and on the 100th anniversary of the dedication of this church, we first and foremost give thanks to God,” said the bishop – “for faith, for loving presence, for 100 years of a touching a faith community. Here is a place of prayer,” he said, “sacred space which allows us to raise our hearts and minds to God – and to give thanks.”

Father Steve Dublinski (right), rector of the Cathedral, concelebrated the centennial Mass with Bishop Skylstad, assisted by Deacon John Ruscheinsky (left).

Parishioners presented gifts of food for the poor during the centennial Mass. (IR photos courtesy of Jerry Rowles, Valley Chapel Photography)

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